Spring Planting

Peaches, Waiting to Happen

When these plants bloom, it’s time for early Spring planting. The absolute first to bloom is in the next picture.

Neviusia alabamensis

That’s commonly known as Alabama Snow wreath, one of the rarest shrubs in the world, mainly because it only reproduces vegetatively, aka, by stolons instead of seeds. This year it began blooming during the second week of February, easily the earliest I have ever seen. That was when I got busy. Here’s a list of veg I planted, every one of which is up and growing.

Greens

Lettuce “Lolla Rossa Darkness”

Lettuce “Jericho”–can take some heat

Kale “Lacinato”

Brussel Sprouts “Catskill”

Mustard “Mizuna Red Streaks”–currently my favorite of the greens

Root Crops

Carrot “Kuroda”–also can take some heat

Radish “Lady Slipper”

Peas

I accidentally managed to plant all three types of peas–Snow, Sugar Snap, and English. They are growing like crazy, as it is supposed to be eighty degrees F here today.

Dwarf Grey Sugar-Snow Pea that actually grows to about five feet here

Sugar Daddy–Sugar Snap

Little Marvel–Heirloom English Pea

Here are the remains of the project.

J. L. Hudson, the anarchist seed seller in California, is the best around, for both quality, selection, and value. Still, I will also buy a commercial pack of heirloom seeds for fifty cents.

At this point I must agree with the last sentence of Candide, the great work by Voltaire: “That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.” No wonder Thomas Jefferson had a bust of Voltaire, in the entrance hallway at Monticello.

Veg and Fruit

Farmers of the World Unite

 “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, & that, not as an aliment so much as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet.”–Thomas Jefferson

Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea

Four Feet and Climbing. If this is Dwarf, I sure don’t want to see Giant.

Dwarf Gray Sugar is the best edible podded pea for this part of the South, the lower Southern Appalachians. First introduced in 1881, this has heirloom strength combined with vigorous growth. It also has ornamental bicolor pink and purple blossoms.

Pease Blossom

Plant Details

Planting Time

Early spring or early fall. Spring is the best time for planting here, on the border between USDA hardiness zones 7 & 8. Global warming (ACD-Anthropogenic Climate Disruption) has made the timing a crap shoot, and I now bet on mid-February. A few years ago our last freeze date was February 9; this year, March 30. Roll the dice, and be ready to re-plant.

Planting Depth

1″, as with most peas.

Spacing

For reasons explained below, I don’t plant rows, but arrange the peas a couple of inches apart around my tomato cage trellis, which is tomato cages arranged in a zig zag pattern. I hang garden twine off the tops to provide more support for the vines.

Plant Height

Dwarf, you say? Here’s where I get to quote Stanley Kowalski telling off Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire: “And do you know what I say? Ha ha! Do you hear me? Ha ha ha!” The first time I planted these I believed the “doesn’t need a trellis” bit, and they fell over at about four feet tall. I would write off this year’s growth to the 19″ of rain we’ve had since February 1, but they grow like this every year.

Pods

Still tender at 3″; also stringless.

Time to Harvest

Depending on weather, anywhere from 70 to 100 days in our climate.

There really aren’t any fertilization requirements, as peas are nitrogen setting. A fertile soil never hurts, however.

The most famous Southern pea eater was Thomas Jefferson, who participated in a pea growing competition every year in his part of Albemarle County, Virginia. The winner was the farmer who could produce the earliest crop. However, even then, Jefferson noted that green peas were being replaced by the African crop field peas, because of their heat tolerance.

For the record, our terminology is as follows: Pisum sativum varieties are known here as English peas or green peas; the more common Vigna unguiculata are known as field peas and cowpeas, though usually just peas. Most modern Southerners have probably never seen a fresh English pea.